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Posted on 12/07/2007 10:45 AM
By: CappersPicks.com NFL Football Handicapping Staff
Bet on NFL – Jags Will Cover Panthers
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Although neither of these two teams has been eliminated from playoff contention, it is pretty clear that only the Jags will be playing in January unless they have a breakdown of New York Giant-proportions over the last four games. Carolina, however, did manage to beat the lowly Niners last weekend, while the Jaguars lost a close battle to their division-nemesis, the Indianapolis Colts. The NFL betting line favors the Jags by 10.5 points in this home game.
Carolina Panthers +10.5 at Jacksonville Jaguars –10.5
David Garrard has made his coach look like a genius for dropping the over-hyped and underperforming Byron Leftwich one week before the start of the season. His one interception this year so far is about the average Leftwich would have had per game. He protects the ball and spreads it around to his receivers. In fact, the Jags have five receivers with more than 25 receptions, with none having more than Dennis Northcutt’s 36. What this means is that defenders can’t pick one or even two options to take out of the game, they must be aware of everyone on the field. This allows the Jags offense much more opportunity that they have had in recent years.
Carolina will want to put pressure on Garrard, but recent history would suggest they will fail. The failure to pressure opposing quarterbacks has led to poor outings by the Panthers secondary as well. They have just 12 interceptions on the year and will have to avoid the mismatches the Jags will be seeking for slot receiver Northcutt, who could have a very good day if the Panthers opt for a heavy blitz package. It does not help Carolina’s cause that they can’t afford to overlook the Jags great run game, as Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew are both averaging 4.7 yards per carry.
The Jags do a good job of plugging up the middle when they are on defense, forcing opposing teams to run laterally, rather than straight up the middle. It will be a battle from the get-go, as both teams will want to establish superiority on the line. The Panthers want the middle so that they can work their zone blocking schemes, which allow their backs to make quick decisions and hit the holes at full stride. Forcing them to go outside could result in a tentativeness that will play right into the hands of Jacksonville’s very powerful front seven.
The Jaguars own just about every meaningful area of the field over the Panthers, who have been disappointing, to say the least, to their football betting followers. Going back twenty games, there is a very strange pattern to Panthers ball games. They are 9-11 SU and they have covered only the games they have won. When they are expected to lose, they do, without fail, and the other team covers the spread every time.
NFL Free Pick: The Jags are not going to lose this game, and the Panthers are not going to cover.
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